Now comes the time for planning the big day, and you want it to be awesome—and done frugally.
Consider starting with food and drink, which can be big-time budget busters. Be a maverick and don’t serve a full meal. Instead, offer a big array of appetizers and keep them coming. Have friends help make them in return for an evening of food and drink. Make it a pre-wedding party. Or go to a local restaurant and price them instead of using your catering hall’s offerings, which are likely overpriced.
For alcohol, supply your own, or even use a signature drink throughout the day to better gauge what kind of quenchers you will need and how much.
Although you might be tempted to put everyone you know on your guest list, it isn’t always a great idea. With each person you choose, you’re adding costs while also making your wedding less intimate.
With a quality home printer and some time, you can make very classy invitations on your own. Sites like VistaPrint.com also offer cheap wedding invitations you can order from your home. Of those invited, do you have friends that are photographers, musicians and/or great at baking? Asking family and friends to offer help or services that align with their talents in lieu of a gift is a great way to keep your wedding on a budget.
The dress—and tux
Go casual; your guests most certainly will. The days of tuxes and gowns are disappearing and couples are dressing much more comfortably. Consider local thrift stores, where you can make a killing. Or, consider renting dresses. For the men, even tee shirts are being worn, perhaps accompanied by a tie.
Usher technology into every part of your big day. Fun selfies and hashtags can make for a heightened, enjoyable experience.
Wedding hashtags: You’ve probably already seen wedding hashtags like “#WeddingWilson.” In addition to being cool, the hashtags serve a purpose. They let guests post about or from your wedding in real time. Family and friends can capture the day’s candid moments and relive them immediately.
Wedding livestream: This is a great idea, especially if you have cut back on guests. If they aren’t too mad at you for not being invited, they can watch the festivities.
Digital guestbook: Rather than go with the traditional guestbook, leave an iPad or a digital camera for guests to create a video message for you.
Renting a catering hall can be expensive. Instead, consider using your home (or the home of a parent or other relative), or perhaps a public park with an awesome view. In each case, you can also have your reception outdoors, creating a picturesque, memorable ceremony.
A survey by evenfinancial.com showed that while banquet halls (22 percent), country clubs (11 percent) and hotels (11 percent) are still popular options for couples, about 40 percent are looking for unusual venues that better reflect their personality. Also, a 13 percent decrease in church weddings was highlighted. Some 28 percent of couples held their ceremony in a religious institution, down from 41 percent in 2009.
Instead of spending boatloads of money on flowers that will die shortly after the reception, keep it simple but elegant — for instance, a single rose for each bridesmaid and a very small bouquet for the bride. If you know someone with a rose bush, you can make your own bouquets the day before the ceremony by cutting the roses yourself and trimming away the thorns.
Rather than hiring a DJ, use your own stereo equipment, or equipment you borrow from a friend. Create a playlist on your iPod that features a few hours’ worth of your favorite songs—or see if you have a friend who might want to make a playlist for you. Choosing your own songs is a great way to personalize the entire experience. Then create the playlist on Spotify and share it.
The days after
A huge, over-the-top honeymoon might sound fun, but it’s far cheaper (and often more enjoyable) to stay closer to home. Instead of planning a big, expensive trip, focus on what matters: Unwinding after those hectic weeks leading up to your wedding and savoring some time alone with your new spouse. An 18-hour flight across the world with multiple connections isn’t going to help in that regard. You can hop in the car and spend a week or two seeing all of the local sights you’ve never had time to see until now.
Whatever you do, just enjoy this time together.
Resources: thesimpledollar.com, moneycrashers.com, huffingtonpost.com, evenfinancial.com